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Q&A: How much time will Cannon really serve?

The Observer interviewed prominent Charlotte defense lawyers James Wyatt and Jim Cooney to answer questions about Patrick Cannon’s prison sentence.

Q. A federal judge has sentenced Patrick Cannon to 44 months. But how much prison time will Cannon really serve?

A. Roughly 30 to 33 months, Cooney says. That’s because inmates can win sentence reductions for good behavior and for completing an alcohol abuse program. U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney recommended Cannon for such a program. While the decision will be up to the federal Bureau of Prisons, the bureau usually follows judges’ recommendations.

Q: Where will Cannon likely serve his sentence?

A: Because he is a nonviolent offender, Cannon will likely be sent to a minimum security federal prison reasonably close to Charlotte, Wyatt and Cooney say. The most likely prisons: Butner, Edgefield, S.C., , and Beckley, W. Va. The federal Bureau of Prisons will decide where he’s sent. Cooney predicts it will be Edgefield.

Q. What will Cannon’s prison time be like?

A. In a minimum security prison, he will likely have freedom to send emails, surf the Internet, watch television and have contact visits with his family. He will also have access to counseling, to 12-step programs and to a library. He will be surrounded by white-collar criminals and other nonviolent offenders. But the federal conviction will likely haunt him for years after his release, making it difficult for him to get many jobs.

Q. When will he report to prison?

A. He will likely be required to report to prison in six to eight weeks. The federal Bureau of Prisons will make that decision.

Q.: How will the government recover money from Cannon?

A: The government has imposed a judgment of $50,500 against Cannon, along with a $10,000 fine. Federal authorities recovered about $8,000 from Cannon’s home after arresting him.

The U.S. attorneys office can decide whether to seize assets, including any shares Cannon may still own in E-Z Parking, the business he founded, Wyatt and Cooney said. Prosecutors can also decide whether to seize any equity he owns in his house in Ballantyne, which has a tax value of about $315,000. If Cannon still owes money after serving his sentence, the federal government will make him pay at least $200 a month, Whitney said.

Ames Alexander